Exposure to light while you sleep could be damaging your heart health, according to a new study.
In research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of the Science, scientists found that sleeping in a room with even a little bit of lighting may be detrimental to your health.
The study stated that sleeping with lights on could increase your heart rate while you sleep as well as decreasing heart rate variability.
Another harmful effect of light exposure during sleep was an increase insulin resistance in the morning, according to researchers.
According to The Sun, Dr. Phyllis Zee, chief of sleep medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a co-author of the study said: “The results from this study demonstrate that just a single night of exposure to moderate room lighting during sleep can impair glucose and cardiovascular regulation,”
Doctor Zee went on to explain that these types of implications can then lead to an increase risk of heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
In order to complete the study, researches monitored participants who slept in moderately lit and dimly lit rooms.
Throughout the night and into the next day, the response of participant’s bodies were monitored.
Those who slept in moderately lit rooms were found to enter a heightened state – known as sympathetic activation.
While awake, our body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated by our autonomic nervous system.
This activation means that we are prepared for activity and also allows stress levels to be regulated.
However, a different system called the parasympathetic nervous system is supposed to be activated in order to help our bodies rest and digest.
Doctor Daniela Grimaldi, a co-first author and research assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern, explained: “Even though you are asleep, your autonomic nervous system is activated.
“That’s bad. Usually, your heart rate together with other cardiovascular parameters are lower at night and higher during the day,”
Those who slept in a moderately lit room were also found to suffer insulin resistance the next morning, the study found.
This means that cells in the body’s muscles and fat are unable to properly access glucose from the blood for energy, leading more insulin being created in the pancreas.
As a result, blood sugar levels can increase over time which can ultimately lead to type-2 diabetes.
“These findings are important, particularly for those living in modern societies where exposure to indoor and outdoor nighttime light is increasingly widespread,” Dr. Zee added.
“If you’re able to see things really well, it’s probably too light.” He said.
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